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Astr110 Photography Projects, Fall 2005

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A Savage Journey to the Heart of the Astronomer's Dream: The Milky Way Galaxy, Brad DeFrain


This is an earth's-eye view straight through the disk of the Milky Way Galaxy--more specifically, our home galaxy. Galaxies are a culmination of stars, dust, solar systems, and dark matter. Most galaxies take one of three distinct forms: spiral, eliptical, and irregular. Spiral galaxies, like the Milky Way, consist of a disk, spiral arms, a bulge, and a halo. The disk is where the majority of the stars in a spiral galaxy are found; the bulge is the exremely luminous center of the galaxy, which all of the spiral arms (much like a pinwheel) in the disk rotate around. The halo of a spiral galaxy is the "[o]uter region of a galaxy of any type; typically containing old Population II stars and globular star clusters, sometimes mixed up with somewhat younger stars from disrupted, "cannibalized" dwarf galaxies" (www.seds.org). An example of an edge-on view of a spiral galaxy would be taking a tennis ball or a super ball and sticking it through the middle of a paper plate. The reason this photograph of our night's sky, here from planet earth, through use of a telescope, appears to be so populous with stars, is because we're looking right through the "paper plate" of our galaxy.

It is obvoius that some stars in this photograph appear more bright than other stars. A star's brightness is determined by its distance from earth and the actual luminosity (or absolute magnitude) of the star itself. A star may appear more bright in the night sky relative than another, but compare those same stars again, based on what they actually are and not what we see them to be, the results may be much different.

The intended object of photograph was M76--the Little Dumbell. Due to technical errors, we captured an image of these stars instead of M76. Using the small angle formula, M76's Linear Size is 4.75ly.





The Sky

Right Ascension (J2000) 01:47:18
Declination (J2000) 51:34:00
Filters used clear(C)
Exposure time per filter 8 x 150 seconds in clear (C)
Date observed

November 12, 2005 (C)